Food and travel go hand in hand — you can’t really immerse yourself in a local culture without the tastes and smells that go along with it.
For vegetarians, vegans or those with special dietary needs, however, travel can be tricky — whether it’s snacking in the airport, finding a place to grab a bite on a road trip or getting a good meal once you’ve reached your destination.
It’s okay to indulge in new foods on vacation — whether it’s for spring break or a summer trip — in fact, you should. But it’s always good to have a backup food plan when in an unfamiliar town, just in case.
IN THE CAR
By the time everyone’s luggage and pillows are packed, there probably won’t be room to spare for coolers or bags of food. Fast food is usually acceptable for road tripping, but can be very hit and miss for vegetarians and vegans, especially. Pack a few small but protein-packed snacks to stay full and satisfied in between larger meals or stops, Vegucated recommends. Try:
- Protein bars
- Peanut or almond butter with apple slices or veggie sticks
- Whole grain crackers with hummus
- Mixed nuts
You could also make a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole wheat bread and stash them away for later.
Remember to stay hydrated by bringing a refillable water bottle or two and rationing it on the drive.
IN THE AIRPORT, ON THE PLANE
Security made you toss out your sandwich at the checkpoint and now you’re faced with a three-hour layover with the smell of $6 cinnamon buns wafting through the terminal. Let’s face it: eating vegetarian in the airport can be hard. Some airports have at least a few vegetarian-friendly sandwich shops or kiosks to purchase pre-made salads, but the convenience factor comes with a hefty price tag.
If time allows, find a sit-down restaurant in the airport and ask the staff if menu items can be modified for special diets. Most menus are posted outside the restaurant. In a pinch, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Asian and Mediterranean airport restaurants are usually veg-friendly, according to No Meat Athlete.
To save a few extra dollars, bring a reusable water bottle and stash it in your carry-on bag. You’ll have to empty the container at the security checkpoint, but can fill it up at a fountain after you clear the line.
AT THE HOTEL
If you’re staying in a hotel, call ahead or check online to see what breakfast options are available and whether your room has a mini-fridge. Small snacks can be stored in the room if needed for a pinch and can be picked up at a nearby grocery store or pharmacy.
Or, if you are going out to eat, check online first for local menu options. The free Vegman app in the App Store can help guide you — simply plug in your zip code.
What are your tips for traveling on a special diet?